In my new book, A Parcel for Anna Browne, an ordinary woman starts to receive extraordinary gifts by post - gifts that, she realises, begin to change the way she sees herself. The story is inspired by surprise gifts I and my friends have received over the years. Especially the ones with an unknown sender.
You know the ones: the Valentine's gift you never worked out who sent it; the unexpected competition win in a magazine you'd forgotten you'd entered; the flowers that arrived with no card attached. Even if you've never received such a gift, I suspect you will have heard of it happening to someone you know. The thought that someone, somewhere is thinking of you is impossibly lovely and something we hope to experience.
The best parcel I ever received was a complete surprise. My lovely friend Katie Marsh (author of the brilliant 'My Everything' - a book you should definitely treat yourself to) went on a trip to New York and sent me a parcel of 'happy post'. A New York notebook, postcards from museums, Hershey chocs and more - basically, New York in a padded envelope!
Many people know how obsessed I am with the City That Never Sleeps - I've written two novels set there, Fairytale of New York and I'll Take New York, and spent hundreds of hours researching the city. But what not many people know is that I'm yet to travel to NYC. I couldn't afford it when I wrote my first book and discovered I was expecting my daughter Flo and couldn't travel when I wrote my sixth. So this gift meant more to me than most people would realise - through Katie's kindness I got to experience New York. Now that's what I call a brilliant parcel!
What's the best parcel you've ever received? I would love to hear your stories!